To Cook a Bear: Book summary and reviews of To Cook a Bear by Mikael Niemi

To Cook a Bear

by Mikael Niemi

To Cook a Bear by Mikael Niemi X
To Cook a Bear by Mikael Niemi
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2021
    432 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

A fantastic tale set in the far north of Sweden in 1852 following a runaway Sami boy and his mentor, the famous pastor Laestadius, as they investigate a murder in their village along with the mysteries of life.

Jussi, a runaway, becomes Laestadius's faithful son and disciple, and the two set out on botanical treks filled with philosophical discussions where Jussi learns all about plants and nature; and also how to read and write and about spirituality. But their quiet days are interrupted when a maid goes missing in the forest. When she is found dead, the locals suspect a predatory bear is at large. The constable is quick to offer a reward for capturing it, but Laestadius sees other traces that point to a far worse killer on the loose.

After another maid is severely injured, Jussi and the pastor work to track down the murderer, unaware of the evil that is closing in on them. For it is revivalist times, and impassioned faith spreads like wildfire among the locals. While Laestadius's powerful Sunday sermons grant salvation to farmers and workers, they gain him enemies among local rulers, who see profits dwindle as people choose revival over alcohol.

A completely absorbing and unforgettable novel, To Cook a Bear both entertains and burrows deep down into the great philosophical questions of life.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Review
"I've always liked mystery novels where the lead is not a detective, like To Cook a Bear's Laestadius, a pastor and botanist. I also found Laestadius's adopted son Jussi a compelling protagonist, and the setting of Sweden in 1852 was of particular interest to me as well. The novel contains many poetic observations about nature. However, less than halfway through the narrative began to drag. At 426 pages, there is a lot of waiting while gently nodding one's head over yet another nice description of nature." - Rory Aronsky

Other Reviews
"There is much more to this wonderfully idiosyncratic novel from Sweden; it is not only a riveting, psychologically astute mystery but also a work of history, natural history (the pastor is a gifted botanist), and religion...superb. It is not to be missed." - Booklist (starred review)

"[S]umptuous...While the plot isn't likely to leave mystery aficionados baffled, it provides a lively framework for a story that, in other hands might have been devoted to sermon writing and leaf examination. Niemi's sensitive approach to cultural differences and sharp interest in period details make this worthwhile." - Publishers Weekly

"Niemi is a born storyteller, To Cook a Bear is a beguiling and seductive read." - Crime Time (UK)

"Niemi succeeds in constructing a story that works as a murder mystery and as a compelling study of a dangerously inward-looking community." - Sunday Times (UK)

"Divine. This book is a masterpiece." - Daglabet (Norway)

This information about To Cook a Bear shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Mikael Niemi

Mikael Niemi is the author of the novel Popular Music From Vittula (2000) which has sold over one million copies worldwide. It won the Swedish Best Book of the Year Prize and has been translated into over 30 languages. Mikael Niemi was born in 1959 and grew up in Pajala in the northernmost part of Sweden, near the Finnish border, where he still lives.

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